September 13, 509 BC: The Temple of Jupiter Optimus Maximus is dedicated. It was the most important temple in Ancient Rome and located on the Capitoline Hill. The Hill was located between the Forum and the Campus Martius and was one of the seven hills of Rome. It was analogous to the ancient Greek Acropolis. The temple’s date is known because it was the Ides of September. Roman calendars were not numbered sequentially, but dates derived from the Kalendae or Kalends (first day of the month or the day of the new moon), the Nones (the day of the half moon), and the Ides (the day of the full moon). The Ides fell on the 15th if the month had 31 days and the 13th on other months. So the Ides of September would be the 13th day of the seventh month (years began at the spring equinox).
Later Roman traditions tell us of this first building of the temple. Lucius Tarquinius Priscus promised to build a temple to honor Jupiter while battling the Sabines and began the terracing necessary to support the foundation of the temple. Modern archeological investigation has confirmed much excavation was needed to just get a level building site established. Most of the foundation and superstructure were completed by Lusius Tarquinius Superbus, the last King of Rome. Myths stated that other temples had already existed near the site and the only two gods who refused permission to tear down their temples were Terminus and Juventas and so their shrines were incorporated into this new building. These were read as good omens for various reasons.
The temple was dedicated on this day. It was built to please Jupiter and his companion deities, Juno and Minerva. The man chosen to dedicate the temple was selected by lots and the duty fell to Marcus Horatius Pulvillus, one of the consuls serving that year. In Livy’s records created in 495 BC, he stated the Latins were so grateful for the release of 6,000 Latin prisoners, they sent a crown of gold to the temple. The original temple measured 200 x 200 feet and was the most important religious temple in the entire state of Rome. Each deity had his/her own separate cella with Jupiter in the center and Juno on his left and Minerva on his right.
With such an important temple, subsequent rulers would attempt to appease the gods or impress the citizenry with their devotion and so the temple was rebuilt several times. The first time, the building was completed and dedicated in 69 BC. It was here that Brutus hid after his assassination of Caesar. Vespasian rebuilt and the dedication was held in 75 AD but that temple burned in 80 AD, during the reign of Titus. That meant immediate rebuilding needed to be done and the fourth building went up. The building itself lasted for about 300 years, but by then not only were religious mores changing, but the Roman Empire was in decline as well. There are remains of the final iteration of the temple located behind the Palazzo dei Conservatori.
Apollo said that every one’s true worship was that which he found in use in the place where he chanced to be. – Michel de Montaigne
The lover is a monotheist who knows that other people worship different gods but cannot himself imagine that there could be other gods. – Theodor Reik
A man can no more diminish God’s glory by refusing to worship Him than a lunatic can put out the sun by scribbling the word ‘darkness’ on the walls of his cell. – C. S. Lewis
Where it is a duty to worship the sun it is pretty sure to be a crime to examine the laws of heat. – John Morley
Also on this day: It’s Hot, Hot, Hot – In 1922, the highest temperature in the shade was recorded.
Jumpman – In 1985, Super Mario Bros. was released by Nintendo.
Traffic Fatality – In 1899 – the first traffic fatality in the US took place.
Supply and Demand – In 1812, supplies heading for Fort Harrison were captured.
Theft Goes Horribly Wrong – In 1987, a theft from a closed hospital led to death.